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    Once again, the rich spoke about the absent poor

    From the opening session of the Beyond Kyoto ConferenceSpeakers and participants at the Beyond Kyoto Conference agree that the climate challenges are global and are likely to hit the developing world harder than anyone else. They also agree that the issue needs to be addressed and discussed internationally, across borders, religions and economies. But a short look at the list of speakers reveals only a few names from the developing world.

    The solution to climate changes is global. That has been stated several times and again at the Beyond Kyoto conference. On the first day of the conference, The Danish Minister of Development, Ulla Tørnæs, said “The new climate agreement which we hope will be reached at COP15 in Copenhagen in December must address the special needs of the developing countries and include a strong development agenda”.

    Svend Auken, Danish MP, mentioned the importance of money for climate funds to help developing countries to reduce their emissions and to adapt to climate change.

    But at the conference, the presence of the developing world stops with the words. Only one of out overy 20 speakers are from a developing nation to participate in the debate on our collective future and give their opinion on how to deal with the climate issues.

    A first-world project?

    155 speakers come from from high-income countries with a total of 1 billion inhabitants, whilst 8 speakers from low- and middle- income countries are the only representatives of the remaning 5,7 billion people in the world.

    This fact could contribute to the already widespread perception in developing countries that the fight against climate changes is a first-world project. And when one looks through the corridors of the conference, it does not seem like the world is presented any better among the participants.  Shortly before the end of the conference, the organisers were however unable to provide a final list of the delegates.

    Views but no action

    Lily Lamptey, Joseph Mills and Ebenezer Djangetey, three Ghanaian students doing a two-year environmental scholarship in Aalborg, are participants in the conference and recognise the perception of the climate debate as being a somewhat exclusive project for the rich world.

    “It seems like a talk show. Speakers present their views, but no action is being taken. Concrete steps towards a solution are needed. We have a lot of experts with practical experience in Africa. But I don’t think they have any desire to attend conferences like this, because they feel they are not being taken seriously and that nothing will happen,”  Ebenezer Djangetey explains.

    At least 50 % from developing countries

    T. Dhanapal from India is one of the eight speakers from a developing country at the conference. “It is crucial that developing countries participate in this debate. Otherwise we will never achieve the aim to reduce the CO2-emission. At least 50 % of the delegates in climate conferences should be from developing countries”.

    The organisers of the conference say that they have no specific policy or criteria when they invite speakers: “Co-ordinators of each of the seven themes were responsible for selecting speakers,” says Marianne Vonsild of the Climate Secretariat at Aarhus University which organised the conference.

    Hear Professor Moses J. Chimbari reflect upon the subject

    By Maj Susanne Junker

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